1-800-TAXICAB Franchise Starts Rolling into Cities Across the US
The US taxicab industry has seen many businesses come and go, but it has never seen a national branded franchise. That’s “franchise” not as in the award from a city meaning, but as in Subway, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Supercuts, Meineke, or thousands of other famous brands.
But not anymore. History has been made with the advent of the 1-800-TAXICAB franchise, the nation’s first true taxicab franchise.
“For over a decade, the 1-800-TAXICAB referral network has operated and grown in thousands of cities throughout the country,” said 1-800-TAXICAB founder and president, Mark Adkins. “But this new business, the franchise, is fundamentally different because it allows local taxi operators to own the brand in their franchise territory.”
The new franchise system, operated by Widestream Enterprises, Inc. offers taxi operators an exclusive territory to operate a 1-800-TAXICAB branded fleet of taxicabs.
“The look-and-feel of the vehicles is extremely distinctive,” said Adkins. “We want to show passengers and drivers with just one glance that we stand for high quality service, the latest technology, and fair and courteous customer service.”
The concept behind the franchise is to have independently owned and operated fleets throughout the US promoting a common brand, along with common phone number, SMS text short code (“T-A-X-I-S”), and websites, including exposure from the highest trafficked website in the US taxi industry, 1800taxicab.com.
“It’s a powerful branding and marketing concept to have taxis all over the country promoting the same phone number, text code and website,” said Mike Ruzicka, Communications Director. “And it makes it even more powerful that the 1-800-TAXICAB phone number is so easy to remember and the SMS short code, T-A-X-I-S is so obvious. It’s like an equation: take the best phone number, website and short code, and multiply them by vehicles all over the country promoting them, and you get strong public awareness.”
The ownership of a protected exclusive local territory at the fleet owner level is crucial because it aligns the interests of each local operator with each other and with the franchise system as a whole.
“Alignment of interest is fundamental,” said Adkins. “It means that every fleet operator in the system wants to promote the same brand to benefit himself or herself. But the net impact of that is a network-wide effect.”
The franchise system is also leveraging long experience with national corporate account work to allow major corporate buyers to establish one account with the franchise system that works nationwide. This alleviates paperwork for the corporate account holder, while providing full face value paid work to franchisee’s independent contractor drivers.
“The corporate account system acts as a clearinghouse, of sorts, to allow corporate charge work to operate seamlessly at taxi locations across the country,” said Calvin Lu, Operations Manager. “Corporate clients are looking to improve tracking while reducing paperwork and 1-800-TAXICAB corporate accounts accomplish that.”
The first 1-800-TAXICAB fleet has already launched, in Cleveland, Ohio with veteran taxicab operator, DeVo Bavishi of Ace Taxi Service, Inc.
“I’ve always thought the 1-800-TAXICAB brand would be a powerful tool,” said Bavishi, president of Ace Taxi Service, Inc. and 1-800-TAXICAB Cleveland. “But I wanted a way to own the results of my efforts. The franchise provides the ownership element, and ownership provides incentives.”
Bavishi points to the quality service aspects of the 1-800-TAXICAB franchise system as critical to his decision to acquire a franchise.
“The vehicles look great, and are distinctive, but most of all, they stand for something,” said Bavishi. “It’s the fact that they are part of a nationwide system that stands for consistency, safety, courtesy, technology, cleanliness, and reliability that will make the brand become a household name.”
To Adkins, it’s about creating something that makes the taxi industry proud.
“My motto is ‘every day, in every city we do business, strive to create the best taxi enterprise in the industry,’” Adkins said. “And it’s amazing how that resonates with everyone involved, independent contractor drivers, franchisees, staff, the public, even other operators who have known us or done business with us for years, and want to see this succeed. I am grateful every day to be a part of this.”
The 1-800-TAXICAB franchise sits side by side, like a patchwork, with the 1-800-TAXICAB referral service, operated for over a decade by 1-800-TAXICAB, INC. Callers to the 1-800-TAXI-CAB phone number reach a franchise location in areas where a 1-800-TAXICAB franchise is located, while in other areas where there is not yet a franchise location, callers are connected to a local taxi company through the 1-800-TAXICAB referral service.
“Because the 1-800-TAXICAB referral service has operated for over a decade,” said Adkins, “the footprint for passengers to call 1-800-TAXICAB to reach a local taxi company is extremely broad.”
The franchise is available for purchase by existing taxi companies in 38 states. Taxi companies that acquire the franchise open a new, 1-800-TAXICAB franchised fleet, and convert some number of vehicles into the new fleet.
“Big fleets would just open a new 1-800-TAXICAB fleet alongside their existing fleet,” said Adkins. “Some very small fleets, especially ones just getting started, may want to convert to the 1-800-TAXICAB brand. It’s completely up to the local franchisee.”
“The franchise is made by and for the taxicab industry,” added Adkins. “So in just about every way, from independent contractor drivers, to addressing regulator issues and vehicle look-and-feel, the franchise is shaped by the particular nuances of the taxi business. Some entrepreneurs come in and want to turn this industry on its head. We don’t. We just want to build the best brand in the industry!”
1-800-TAXICAB currently has franchise fleets in Cleveland, Nashville, Los Angeles County and Salt Lake City.